Fat, Thick, and Dirty

I finally did it. I soldered a pair of PL-259 connectors (screw-on type) onto a 28′ (8m) length of scavenged RG-8 cable. And it works. It really, really works.

PL-259 soldered connectors RG8 coax
PL-259 connectors, kinda soldered, and they actually work.

Of course, they’re really, really dirty.

PL-259 soldered connectors RG8 coax
Dirty solder. So, so dirty.

And it took me 2 hours to f’n do it.

But it works.

Tiny, Cheap, Expensive

Picked up an RTL-SDR software-defined radio dongle. Because reasons.

After an evening of driver hell, I decided today that maybe I should read the quick-start instructions. Gosh, they’re more helpful than I imagined. Finally got the SDRSharp software to recognize the dongle and start tuning and decoding radio.

Unfortunately, my poor old laptop is just too slow. Once it gets a buffer of samples from the dongle, decodes them, processes them, runs them through several filters, displays them on screen in the FFT and waterfall views, and then finally outputs them to my soundcard, the audio is supremely distorted, as if it just can’t fill the audio buffers fast enough to keep them from looping internally. It just sounds like a cheap digital stretch of whatever audio is going in.

I’m sure the SDRSharp application could have been written to be more efficient, but my dual-core 1600MHz machine just can’t handle it. Maybe I’ll get a new laptop, or actually repurpose my music workstation tower to run my ham radio shack. For that, I need to rearrange my apartment and actually get new furniture.

See? It’s true. Amateur Radio is a hobby where you just dig a hole in the back yard and throw money into it. Nothing you get is ever enough.

Radio is hard.

Dueces

Putting in my two-week notice got me feeling like:

Not Sure giving the middle finger salute to the House of Representin

Really, it’s been a bumpy four years, five months at my current job. I had been looking for a while, and an opportunity jumped into my lap and grabbed me by the collar. So after a rollercoaster few weeks with subtle acts of subterfuge and hookie, and after a few last-minute snags due to the holiday, the last stop was pulled out this afternoon and I dropped my notice on my managers who played it off as if they had suspected it all along and saw it coming.

Kinda obvious, really.

The future is going to be heavy with study and learning how to take sips from a raging firehose. The work will be hard for a while. But I’ll be doing it elsewhere. I won’t say where just yet, but I will be back in a product development lab, so that’s nice.

I consider my four years in IT customer support as my time wandering in the wilderness. It’s like I was ejected from the dojo, walked the earth to gain some wisdom, and now I’ve returned home to work with Sensei again. Home to where my only customers are internal. Home to where I don’t have to blow hot air and say, “our engineering staff (me, on shift) is currently investigating your issue and we’ll have more information as it develops. Thank you for your patience.”

Ugh. So glad to be done with that. Product labs don’t give two shits or a good god damn about customer reviews or net promoter scores or phone metrics. They answer to the development cycle. They live and die on the quality of the dataset. They move at a less immediate pace, allowing more thought and creativity and headspace in what needs to be done to get the results and validate the design.

So countdown two weeks: format and reinstall. Wish me luck.

Hungry Like the “e” in Time

In the last two hours of my day, I finally come home and sit down in my apartment, looking at all the trap around me: the projects unfinished; the media unconsumed; the radios unpowered; the music gear untouched. And I wonder what to do tonight to make it alright.

But there’s only these two hours left until I have to retire.

Where did the rest of my evening go? Why home so late? Worked late. Then Epoch. Then Workhorse. Then a walk. Then an errand on the way home. Same program nightly. And now here I am, doing less and less with my time, doing fewer things that have durability, impact, and worth. My works are crowded out.

By what? By being Out There in the World, trying to find my people, trying to figure out what works, trying to fill my life with meaning. That comes from connecting with people. All my hobbies and passions spring from one unquenchable thirst — to reach out, to belong, to be full. And yet there are fewer fulfilling connections in my life, fewer people overall in my own little world.

At the end of the night, I travel home, spent, to stare at my stuff and wonder where it all went awry. Now there’s no time left to put myself into my pursuits and speak through them to amplify my reach. Nothing left but these two hours. Nights are now empty Calories, sweet but inducing hunger.